Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Keeps You Going?

Last week the RITA and Golden Heart finalists were announced. I'd like to congratulate everyone who finaled, especially Kieran Kramer, Paula Graves, Gwen Hernandez and Sharon Wray.

Contests can be a wonderful way for a writer's 'book of the heart' to find a home. Though luck and timing prevail, contests are a constant temptation on the end of a baited hook, which, when the rod is flicked and the reel thrown through cyberspace, entices writers out of their caves with promises of grandeur and hopes of advancing past the slush pile into an editor's or agent's heart. Seeing other writers final in contests can be motivating. But to many entrants, submitting to contests is a game of Russian roulette. What a writer gets out of a contest is the answer to an individual quest. It is the result of character, determination and perseverance.

For most, there will be no glory, no certificate of achievement or one-way ticket to an agent or editor's desk. If you're lucky, like I was last year when my entry, PIRATE BY NIGHT, finaled in the Georgian/Regency/Victorian category of the Romance Through the Ages contest, you're given a nod that you're on the right track.

This year, I'm happy to say I've finaled in the Romance Through the Ages contest again. The hero from my book, LOVE NEVER DIES, James Butler, finaled in the Legend Award category. Heroes out of all the entries in the contest are considered for this award. James, a 100 year old warlock charged with protecting an unseasoned witch and the talisman her ancestors have hidden for centuries, has been nominated for best hero. He's up against 6 other charismatic men, but the fact that the judges fell in love with James is very satisfying. The final results won't be announced until the Hearts Through History AGM in NYC, the end of June. In the meantime, I'm revising my entry and preparing it for the final round.

Every artist, no matter if they are a writer, painter, sculptor, love to needlepoint or garden, needs positive feedback. Contests can be that for many or they can be deflating. Everything depends upon your mindset.

I found a wonderful mantra from Jack M. Bickham and his book, The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them). Put this on index cards and keep it handy or tape it near your computer for easy access when the world tries to break you down.

You CAN sell without an agent
Publishers ARE looking for new writers
Beginners DO break in every year
You DO NOT have to live in NYC to succeed
Your next story WILL BE better
Your luck IS NOT worse than most
Persistence WILL win out
The struggle IS worth making
You DO have enough talent
Anything you still need to know CAN BE learned
Tomorrow WILL look brighter.

(Jean and Stephanie will love this!) Bear Bryant said: "Don't give up at halftime. Concentrate on winning the second half."

Joe Paterno said: "The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital."

And here's my favorite, a great quote that taught me to send my babies into the world. "You have to send a ship out before your ship can come in."

What keeps you going?


  1. Since I am an eternal optimist there are many things that keep me going. Probably the one thing that always keeps me going is the support of my friends. I know that sounds kinda corny but its true.

    Of course, the Bear had some great things to say about winning! Roll Tide Roll!!

  2. I love your optimistic personality, Stephanie! Thankfully, I know if I'm ever down about something, you can make me smile. ;)

    Thought you would like the Bear's quote. :D

  3. What keeps me going is the fact that I HATE to lose! LOL I guess that is why I liked being a lawyer - you get to pound the enemy and win!!! Seriously, I love books and I love reading books. I have always followed the mantra that "Every Southerner has at least one book in him/her." I don't know who said that but I feel it is true.

    Congratulations Kathy! I, sorry to the other ladies, hope you WIN!!!!

  4. Wonderful post Kathy! I love it!! And I'm so stoked that I am friends with all the finalists you mentioned. I have had the distinct pleasure of reading and critiquing two of the finalist's pages for the GH and I am thrilled to cheer them on!

  5. Cheryl, being competitive is a good thing. It has a tendency to keep people from stagnating. I'm sure lawyers have to be competitive in order to survive. It's mind-boggling to me the amount of knowledge a lawyer must have in order to follow the law and support it the fine print. What a commendable and intriguing profession!

    Thanks for the support, Cheryl! I really appreciate it. ;)

  6. What a wonderful, encouraging, uplifting post, Kathy!!! And I'm so excited about your hero finaling in the RTTA, and your story too!!! That is so awesome! I can't wait to celebrate your first contract with you!!! Yay, Kathy!

    Love this post! I may have to steal that quote from Bickham. I have that book, but it's been a long time since I read it.

    Well, gotta go do my edits! Got my edits for The Merchant's Daughter yesterday and I'm about to work my butt off making this book shine! LOL! Love ya!

  7. Thanks, Melanie! Please do us Bickham's mantra. There's nothing like being reminded YOU CAN, and you've shown us that you can with THE HEALER'S APPRENTICE. I can't wait to read THE MERCHANT'S DAUGHTER!

    Wishing you smooth sailing through your edits! I'm looking forward to the fall when your new book comes out. ;)

  8. Ummm... That should have read, 'please do use Bickham's mantra.' LOL!

  9. I've got so much rambling around in my head I don't have time to get discouraged--at least not for more than a few minutes at a time. My stories save me.

    The Bear was wise and a winner.

  10. Being in that state of mind is a good thing, Jean. You always uplift my spirits whenever I talk to you. (By the way, the stories you and Stephanie write are uplifting too.)

    Sadly, I could not find quotes from Gene Chisik... Got any, Cheryl?

  11. What keeps me going? The idea of having to work 9 to 5 in an office somewhere. Otherwise, mostly I just have to work through a LOT of self-doubt.
    But love the post, especially the quote from Paterno :)

  12. Hi Lisa! I understand about self-doubt. We all have it. The irony is it will never go away. But training the mind to focus on what we can achieve is the best way to get around it.

    So glad you stopped by and that you liked the Paterno quote. It really resonated with me. ;)

  13. What keeps me going? Tenacity and the knowledge that I can improve. Also, my love of stories, wandering around in them and telling them.

    Most importantly its the friends that laugh, push, celebrate, and commiserate with me on this writing journey. Our shared experiences make my life richer.

    My favorite quote: "Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Give up." -Winston Churchill.

  14. Hey Mary! Thanks for posting. ;)

    Friends are great for commiserating with, aren't they? I know I'm thankful for my friends. :D

    Funny you should mention that quote. I wear a bracelet with Winston Churchill's valiant rally cry.